We’re currently living in the age of digital audio, and in-the-box mixing within a digital audio workstation is commonplace. Plugins are, therefore, invaluable assets for the modern audio engineer. The phaser effect is a modulation effect that is also considered an important tool in the audio engineer’s toolbox. With so many phaser plugins on the market, 9 stand out as being top performers.
What is the phaser effect in audio? Phaser is a modulation audio effect whereby a series of peaks and troughs are produced across the frequency spectrum of the signal’s EQ. These peaks and troughs vary over time, typically controlled by an LFO (low-frequency oscillator), to create a sweeping effect known as phaser.
For more information on the phaser modulation effect:
• Complete Guide To The Phaser Audio Modulation Effect
• Complete Guide To Audio Modulation Effects (With Examples)
In this article, we’ll discuss the top 9 best phaser plugins.
The top 9 best phaser plugins for digital audio workstations are:
- Eventide Instant Phaser Mk II
- D16 Fazortan 2
- Soundtoys PhaseMistress
- Softube Fix Phaser
- Blue Cat’s Phaser
- MeldaProduction MPhaserMB
- U-he Uhbik-P
- Artsacoustic – Big Rock
- AudioThing Phase Motion 2
It should go without saying that any “top X” article is subject to bias. I would expect the next person’s top 9 to be different than mine but hope that there would be plenty of overlap.
That being said, I believe these plugins to be the best phaser plugin options today. The criteria I used to judge these plugins include the following:
- Sonic performance: how does the phaser plugin sound subjectively/objectively?
- Graphic user interface (GUI): how does the phaser plugin look when loaded in the DAW?
- Ease-of-use: how user-friendly is the phaser plugin?
- Functionality: how many different functions does it serve and/or how many parameters are available for the phaser effect?
- Accessibility/compatibility: how easy is it to acquire the phaser plugin and what are the system requirements?
Let’s discuss each of the top 9 best phaser plugins in greater detail to learn why they made this list.
Related article: Top 11 Best Phaser Pedals For Guitar & Bass
Eventide Instant Phaser Mk II
The Eventide Instant Phaser Mk II (link to check the price at Sweetwater) is an emulation of the revolutionary 1972 Eventide Clockworks Instant Phaser. The Original hardware was designed to replace the time-consuming process of tape flanging. Today, this piece of audio history is available in a plugin.
The Eventide Instant Phaser Mk II plugin comes in AAX, AU and VST formats and is compatible with MacOS and Windows. It requires an iLok account for authorization.
The Eventide Instant Phaser Mk II has been programmed to provide the same legendary sound as the original hardware with all the analog personality, inherent musicality and smooth modulations. In the world of digital audio, the Instant Phaser Mk II is decidedly analog-sounding and characteristically imprecise.
In addition to the superb emulation, the Instant Phaser Mk II also comes with additional capabilities. Chief among such extra parameters is the characteristic “Age” knob, which aims to adjust the sound from classic 70 phase-shifting to futuristic-sound phaser effects.
The “Age” knob simulated the ageing of hardware components and the entropy that ensues as they drift further and further from initial specifications.
There are three different sonic styles of phase-shifting selectable via the mode switch. Shallow and Deep modes alter the intensity of both stereo channels, while Wide mode offers different amounts of phase-shifting on both right and left channels.
The depth control mixes the phase-shifted signal and dry signal together at the output. Side Chain functionality allows users to trigger the Envelope Follower from a separate source in the mix for inter-track mingling.
Within the DAW, Sync and Retrig controls can be used to control the oscillator.
The included feedback parameter can be adjusted for a more pronounced phaser effect.
The Instant Phaser MkII offers four distinct modes of controlling the phaser effect:
- Manual mode: allows precise automation of the phasing.
- Oscillator mode: modulates the phasing at a constant rate that you decide.
- Envelope mode: changes the phase whenever your signal passes the specified threshold. The plugin accepts a side chain input for this control method.
- Remote mode: maps the phasing control to a mod wheel for tactile manipulation.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Eventide Instant Phaser Mk II user manual.
Eventide is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.
D16 Fazortan 2
The D16 Fazortan 2 (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is the latest incarnation of the Controllable Space Phaser and is based on a classic 1970s-era hardware phaser unit.
The D16 Fazortan 2 plugin comes in AAX, AU and VST formats and is compatible with MacOS and Windows. It requires a D16 Group account for authorization.
Though D16 repeatedly references an original hardware unit, they do not specify which unit the Fazortan2 is based on. My best guess is that this plugin is inspired by the Electro-Harmonix classic Small Stone, judging by the statement “the original had a single Rate knob and a Color switch on the front panel, Fazortan 2 stands alone as a completely new device – made obvious no less by its GUI – expanding on the features of its hardware counterpart.”
Like the aforementioned Instant Phaser, the Fazortan 2 sounds distinctly analog. D16 utilizes advanced analog modelling techniques based on Operational Transconductance Amplifiers to produce software that truly emulates the “real deal” classic analog hardware.
Along with the robust analog character, the Fazortan 2 is completely controllable. This best-of-both-worlds approach combines the precision of digital modeling with the wonderful sound of the classic 70’s analog phaser.
Looking at the GUI of the Fazortan 2, two LFO knobs stand out to the left of the plugin. The rate of each LFO can be synced to the DAW tempo or adjusted manually. The waveform (triangle, sine, hyper-triangle or random) and depth can also be adjusted per LFO.
Using both LFOs simultaneously provides near-boundless possibilities unobtainable with vintage hardware. In addition to multiple LFOs, users of this plugin can also add or subtract all-pass filter stages/poles to increase or decrease the peaks and valleys, respectively. Of course, there is also a feedback control to enhance the resonances of such peaks and valleys if necessary.
This highly versatile phaser plugin is unique in its phaser processing, making it a special tool as far as modulation effects go. It’s super clean with no harmonic distortions at its output. It offers 2 different GUI sizes, MIDI learning and 64-bit processing. All in all, it’s one of the best phaser plugins out there.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the D16 Fazortan2 user manual.
The Soundtoys PhaseMistress (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) pays homage to the name of the Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress flanger/chorus yet is more so inspired to sound like the legendary Mu-Tron Bi-Phase, Boss Super Phaser, MXL Phase 90, Moog Moogerfooger 12 Stage and Electro-Harmonix Small Stone analog phaser units, to name a few.
The Soundtoys PhaseMistress plugin comes in AAX Native, AAX AudioSuite, AU and VST formats and is compatible with MacOS and Windows. It requires an iLok account for authorization.
The incredible analog sound of the PhaseMistress phaser plugin is enhanced with superior adjustability and a superb range of tempo-locking and rhythmic tools. These outstanding features are made adjustable via a distinctly analog-style graphic user interface.
Soundtoys provides 69 excellent presets for the PhaseMistress. However, the real magic of the plugin comes from the deep user tweakability. The number of stages/poles can be set between 2 and 24, and the resonance can be fine-tuned.
The LFO can be set to a variety of creative waveforms or even be drawn in by the user. Alternatively, the “control voltage” can be set to the more involved settings, including Rhythm mode (with various rhythmic patterns) and Random mode. The phaser plugin also offers an Envelope mode, which will respond to the dynamics of the incoming audio signal.
If a highly versatile analog phaser sound is what you’re after in a plugin, the Soundtoys PhaseMistress should certainly be a top contender!
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Soundtoys PhaseMistress user manual.
Soundtoys is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.
Softube Fix Phaser
The Softube Fix Phaser (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is an outstanding phaser plugin built upon the mind-warping technical concepts of Paul Wolff’s Fix Flanger and Doubler for Fix Audio Designs.
The Softube Fix Phaser plugin comes in AAX, AU and VST formats and is compatible with MacOS and Windows. It requires an iLok and Softube account for authorization.
The Fix Phaser is another excellent plugin that draws upon legendary analog phaser sounds. It effectively combines all the best phasers into a single effects unit and offers unprecedented control over the already superb phaser effect.
From subtle to movement to extreme sci-fi phase-shifting, the Softube Fix Phaser does it all and sounds incredible as it does so.
Turn mono signals into convincing stereo soundscapes with the Wide mode, and blend the dry signal and the phaser signal together with the Mix knob for the perfect output.
Adjust the LFO rate between 0.01 and 6 Hz or utilize the envelope follower to adjust the phaser sweep. Offset the phaser poles and adjust regeneration/feedback to achieve the desired phaser effect with any audio signal.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Softube Fix Phaser user manual.
Softube is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
• Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World
• Top 11 Best DAW Control Surface Brands In The World
Blue Cat’s Phaser
The Blue Cat’s Phaser (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is programmed to sound like vintage analog phaser circuits but with the precision of modern DSP control.
The Blue Cat’s Phaser plugin comes in AAX, AU and VST formats and is compatible with MacOS and Windows.
This seemingly simple phaser plugin is well-laid-out and surprisingly powerful. It’s a multi-stage analog-style effect that can be programmed with up to 32 phasing stages. Go to the extremes by increasing these stages along with the wet and feedback parameters, or keep the effect smooth and gentle by dialling them back.
To offer even more sonic possibilities, Blue Cat has made it possible to control the phase of the signal in both the wet and feedback paths to introduce even more phase-shifting effects.
The LFO can be set to either sine or triangle waveforms and the Spread control widens the output for deep stereo phasing.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Blue Cat’s Phaser user manual.
The MeldaProduction MPhaserMB (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is a powerful multiband phaser, allowing users to affect different frequency bands with various styles of phaser effects simultaneously.
The MeldaProduction MPhaserMB plugin comes in AAX, AU and VST formats and is compatible with MacOS and Windows.
This superb multiband phaser plugin offers pristine audio quality and up to 6 fully customizable bands with 3 perfectly transparent crossover algorithms (analog, linear-phase and hybrid). Adjust the phaser settings to affect each and every band with its own unique phaser effect.
The MPhaserMB comes with two separate user interfaces. The basic GUI offers all the basics and several pre-defined modes to get users set up and running quickly, while the advanced GUI unlocks many additional features to create a truly unique phaser effect.
The “control voltage” oscillators are completely customizable; from predefined oscillator shapes to custom waveform editing to step-sequencing and algorithmic post-processing, the phaser can be swept in virtually unlimited ways.
On top of that, the MPhaserMB features 4 global modulators that can be assigned to any other parameter to really get creative with the phaser effect. Each modulator can be set as an LFO, envelope follower, midi/audio-triggered ADSR envelope, a pitch detector or a combination thereof.
Other advanced features include up to 8 channels of surround processing, automatic synchronization to host tempo, adjustable up-sampling (1x-16x), MIDI learning and global preset management.
This super powerful phaser plugin deserves a top spot on this list and a whole other article to discuss its full potential (in addition to actually testing it out). To learn more, please check out the MeldaProduction MPhaserMB user manual.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the MPhaserMB support page at MeldaProduction.
The U-he Uhbik-P (link to check the price of the Uhbik FX Plug-in Bundle at Sweetwater) is the phaser plugin of U-he’s impressive 9-plugin Uhbik FX bundle.
The U-He Uhbik-P plugin comes in AAX, AU and VST formats and is compatible with MacOS and Windows. It requires an iLok account for authorization.
The Uhbik-P, like all plugins in the Uhbik bundle, is easy-to-use and impressively powerful. This phaser offers up to 42 all-pass filters (stages/poles) and competes with the best, producing some of the deepest, warmest phasing available (plugin or otherwise).
Typical filter frequency and feedback controls allow the adjustments necessary for a variety of phaser effects. The feedback can be positive or negative, and the built-in high-pass filter can eliminate phase-shifting the low end. These parameters can be controlled manually or via the built-in LFO (with customizable waveform, phase position, tempo-sync or absolute rate).
The Uhbik-P can be operated in Granular Pitch Shift or Vocoder modes, further enhancing its versatility.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the U-he Uhbik-P user manual.
Artsacoustic Big Rock
The Artsacoustic Big Rock (link to check the price at Artsacoustic) is an authentic, accurately modelled emulation Electro-Harmonix Small Stone. There’s no hiding this fact, and Artsacoustic even went ahead to design the GUI similar to the legendary 1974 phase-shifter.
The Artsacoustic Big Rock plugin comes in AAX, AU and VST formats and is compatible with MacOS and Windows. It requires an iLok account for authorization.
Of course, technology has advanced significantly since the 1970s (think of plugins themselves). The Artsacoustic Big Rock offers advanced features but is dedicated to recreating the magical analog sound of the real Small Stone.
Stereo processing, wet/dry mix, centre frequency, LFO amount and stereo offset of the LFO are all easily adjustable to dial in the perfect phaser sound.
The Big Rock also features a high-pass/low-pass filter section pre-filter stage. Another improvement is the continuously adjustable resonance/feedback (colour), which opens the door for tremendous creative potential not necessarily available in the original hardware unit.
To learn more about high-pass and low-pass filters, check out the following My New Microphone articles, respectively:
• Audio EQ: What Is A High-Pass Filter & How Do HPFs Work?
• Audio EQ: What Is A Low-Pass Filter & How Do LPFs Work?
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Artsacoustic Big Rock user manual.
Electro-Harmonix is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
AudioThing Phase Motion 2
Last but not least is the AudioThing Phase Motion 2 (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique), an advanced yet utilitarian stereo phaser plugin.
The AudioThing Phase Motion 2 plugin comes in AAX, AU and VST formats and is compatible with MacOS and Windows. It requires an iLok account for authorization.
AudioThing’s Phase Motion 2 brings 32-stage stereo phase-shifting to a user-friendly plugin. It has everything we could want in a go-to phaser and sounds awesome.
The LFO rate can be adjusted by absolute frequency (in Hertz) or synced to the host/DAW tempo. There are 6 LFO waveforms to choose from (sine, triangle, ramp up, rump down, square, random). Depth and Feedback controls and continuously adjustable.
Best of all, the left and right channels can have completely independent settings. It almost as if there are two phasers in one plugin. Of course, they can also be linked. There is also a phase invert option to flip the phase of one channel relative to the other for even more stereo differences.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the AudioThing Phase Motion 2 user manual.